Today in Apple history: iPhone goes on sale for the first time


First gen iPhone
The smartphone that changed smartphones!
Photo: Traci Dauphin/Cult of Mac

Wednesday 29June 29, 2007: The first-generation iPhone goes on sale, generating massive queues of Apple fans lining up outside Apple Stores around the United States.

With its intuitive touchscreen display, it’s a massive leap forward for smartphones. The device goes on to change the course of not only Apple’s business, but that of the entire mobile industry!

Original iPhone release

For me, the interesting thing about iPhone mania is to ask how predictable it actually was. The sales and creative genius of someone like Steve Jobs is that they suggest radically new ideas that, once you’ve heard them, sound like such common sense that it’s difficult to imagine things being any other way.

Was there really a time when the idea of a smartphone capable of playing your music, browsing the internet, watching media and making calls seemed not only futuristic, but actually counterintuitive?

Apparently so, as a 2007 comment from Tom Smith, Universal McCann’s research manager for Europe, the Middle East and Asia, suggests: “The simple truth: convergence is a compromise driven by financial limitations, not aspiration. In the markets where multiple devices are affordable, the vast majority would prefer that to one device fits all.”

Universal McCann’s damning appraisal was matched by its research. Consumer data suggested that just 31% of Americans wanted a device with multiple capabilities. And that percentage dropped to 27% in Japan. The numbers prove a bit surprising, when you consider that both markets are massive iPhone supporters today.

When you watch early iPhone ads, like the one below which compares the new device to the iPod, it seems hard to imagine a time before the existence of such a magical device.

Original iPhone reactions

Ultimately my overwhelming memory of the iPhone is just how revolutionary it seemed at the time. A smartphone with one button and a large glass display is what I think of when I picture a cellphone today. (Actually, these days, who even needs a Home button?)

However, that’s certainly didn’t seem the norm when I picked up a first-gen iPhone for the first time in 2007. The original iPhone seemed like something of a miracle.

Let’s not forget that the original iPhone suffered from some limitations, though. It lacked speedier 3G connectivity. It was also an AT&T exclusive. And it came in at a high price point, which caused Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer to outwardly laugh at the iPhone, as seen in the video below.

Soon, Microsoft would scramble to try and follow Apple into the smartphone business.

First iPhone launch day

Despite its transformative nature, the iPhone did not immediately become the smash hit it is today. Seventy four days after the iPhone’s launch, Apple had sold “just” 1 million of the devices. By comparison, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus sold a massive 13 million in their first weekend alone.

Oh, and just to make you feel faintly depressed, AAPL shares were trading at $17.43 on the day the iPhone launched — and that was many stock splits ago.

For proof of just how otherwordly the iPhone looked at launch, check out the crowd of awed onlookers in the unusually exciting news report from its launch day in 2007.

Do you remember the original iPhone launch?

What are your memories of the original iPhone? Leave your comments below.


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